Bajan Black Bean Soup
Cuisine: Latin-American
Author: Kitchens
  • 2 1/2 Cups dried black beans* soaked overnight
  • 1 large or 2 small ham hocks
  • 3 to 3 1/2 Quarts water
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 to 3 large onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 small fresh green peppers (jalapenos if preferred)
  • 8 berries allspice coarsely crushed
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar (or 1 teaspoon of molasses)
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3/4 Cup creme fraiche or sour cream
  • salt
  • grated rind and juice from one lemon
  1. *Pressure cooker: just add to pressure cooker; never need to soak.
  2. Put the drained beans and hock in a very large pan, cover with the cold water and bring gradually to a boil. Leave to simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. In a frying pan heat the olive oil, then gently fry the onion, garlic and chili with the allspice and lemon rind, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Add this mixture to the beans and go on simmering for 2 hours, by which time the beans should be tender. At this point add the sugar, lemon juice, and tomato puree.
  4. Cook for another 30 minutes. Add salt if necessary.
  5. Remove the hock, and pick off any meat. If you would like a smooth soup, as mine (the author) was, process the mixture in batches and return with the meat to the pan. Otherwise, for a rougher texture crush with a potato masher. If the mixture seems too thick at this stage, add more water and bring back to the boil for a minute or two.
  6. Ladle the soup into bowls, with a spoonful or two of cream stirred in, and serve with a crusty bread.
  7. If you are feeling lavish, a couple of spoons of dark rum added towards the end give a Bajan fillip.
  8. NOTE: Dense but smooth, with a snap of chili, the soup was both homely and exotic, and very restoring. Barbados produces splendid ham and bacon, and a ham stock is what makes this different from other Caribbean variants. Or, as here, use a hock, soaked first to remove some salt.
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